On 7th December, at the 2021 Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Summit organized by the government of Japan, the European Union (EU) committed at least 2.5 billion euros for nutrition programming by 2024.
The EU’s contribution to the fight against malnutrition is extremely timely and desperately needed. Following the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people facing hunger every day is estimated to have risen from 690 to 822 million in 2020, most notably in low-income countries. Although the figures for 2021 are not available yet, the global picture will likely look even worse this year. Furthermore, the world is not on track to achieve the World Health Assembly (WHA) targets on maternal, infant, and young child nutrition by 2025, nor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Before COVID-19 hit, chronic malnutrition (stunting) affected 149 million children worldwide, while 45 million children suffered from acute forms of malnutrition (wasting).
Today, the EU has reaffirmed its strong commitment to supporting the most vulnerable people worldwide in accessing basic human needs. Nutrition is inextricably linked to other key sustainable development issues, either because it depends on them (i.e. water, sanitation and hygiene, social protection, and agriculture), because it enables them (i.e. health, employment), or because it does both (i.e. gender equality, and education). Nutrition is an important issue underlying and driving the achievement of at least 12 of the 17 SDGs.
Generation Nutrition – a network of CSOs working to see an end to child undernutrition of which Alliance2015 (the European network of NGOs Cesvi is a member of) takes part in – applauds the ambitious renewed financial commitment to the fight against malnutrition and welcomes the EU’s continued leadership to address malnutrition in the words of the INTPA Commissioner “holistically, including support to resilient and sustainable food systems and humanitarian crises”. A real transformation of food systems is needed to ensure affordable and adequate food for all. We recall the need for the EU to ensure the multisectoral approach to nutrition in the NDICI-Global Europe instrument by strengthening social protection systems, building robust and resilient health systems that include nutrition services, and ensuring equitable access to quality water, hygiene and sanitation services, paying particular attention to children, women and girls who are the most vulnerable in contexts such as conflict, natural disasters, and displacement. The EU should pursue its efforts in addressing all forms of malnutrition in development and humanitarian contexts and commit to revising the EU Action Plan on Nutrition accordingly as it will expire in 2025.
Generation Nutrition will follow the full outcomes of the Summit and continue our work with the EU to keep up its leadership in delivering its pledges and bringing other major stakeholders on board to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030.
Photo credits: Gianluigi Guercia